Open Water Galore At the International Hall Of Fame

Open Water Galore At the International Hall Of Fame

At last night’s International Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a crowd of 450 luminaries and aquatic enthusiasts were enthralled by the extraordinary group of individuals, including open water specialists Paul Asmuth and Kevin Murphy.

The theme of open water swimming – in training, in the field of play, in books and in art – was evident throughout the evening as the different inductees were introduced and provided warmly accepted acceptance speeches.

Teofilo Yldefonso of the Philippines, the only Philippine athlete to win two Olympic medals at two consecutive Olympics, trained in the Guisit River in preparation for the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics. His entire life was filled with obstacles, from being orphaned at any early age and raising himself to his early death at the age of 39 when he died in a concentration camp during World War II. Teofilo was a champion in every sense of the word.

Brooke Bennett of the USA, a 3-time gold medalist from Florida, with an enviable record of success at the world championships, Pan American Games, USA National Championships and NCAA championships, was a fantastic open water swimmer, repeatedly winning the always-competitive RCP Tiburon Mile.

Dr. Guy Harvey of Jamaica received the Gold Medallion Award for his beautiful artwork and photography, syndicated television series, publications (magazines and books) and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Dr. Harvey’s message of ocean conservation was inspirational and ubiquitous.

Kevin Murphy (shown above), truly one of the greatest solo marathon swimmers of all time, was deservedly added to the hallowed halls of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. His acceptance speech was profound, humorous, surprising and brutally frank.

After having missed last year’s induction ceremony due to a heart attack, Kevin was happy to be in front of his peers in the highest echelon of aquatics. He said, “I am very, very pleased to be here and am training again for another English Channel attempt. We’ll see how my training goes before making the final decision.”

I am not the best swimmer, but I have an ability to keep going beyond all reason. Call it British eccentricity.”

Kevin admitted that he sometimes questions his sanity in his marathon swims in the cold. “During my Loch Ness [Scotland] swim, I was swimming for 10 hours in 46°F (7.7°C) water [a threshold that is difficult to imagine]. I swam myself into unconsciousness. As I was sinking, I raised my arm which is how my support crew knew I was in trouble. I woke up 10 hours later. I have the will power to drive myself. ” Kevin never stopped thanking his support teams over the years.

During his speech, Kevin explained why he pushes himself to such limits. “I enjoy beating the demons. I hate it [swimming in cold water] and find myself thinking, ‘When can I get out?’ But, I enjoy finishing and the feeling of satisfaction in completing a swim. I have a saying, ‘I am going for a little dip. I did not want to look back and say, ‘I wish I could have done that.’ I always wanted to go out and try to do these swims. I think I have a few more little dips to go.”

Kevin, a British journalist known as the King of the Channel for having crossed the English Channel 34 times, once swam for 52 hours and 30 minutes on a triple-crossing attempt of the English Channel only to come up short.

So a ‘little dip’ remains a relative term when stated by King Kevin, a humble man.

International Swimming Hall of Fame honor coach Mark Schubert helped welcome his eighth athlete into the Hall of Fame with professional marathon swimmer Paul Asmuth the latest athlete.

Paul was very appreciative of all his coaches over the years who helped him along his way to 7 world professional marathon swimming titles and 59 total professional victories.

I was tall and skinny, but Coach Silva taught me how to swim fast and far without gaining weight or getting hurt. Mental visualization was a very important part of his training and my coaches helped me believe in myself. Even if I did not believe in myself, I believed in my coaches who believed in me,” explained Paul to the audience who gave him a standing ovation.

After the ceremonies where people far and wide continued to congratulate him, Paul reflected back on the festivities, “It was a wonderful time to share with family, friends and former teammates and coaches. We talked about good memories and I had a lot of people to thank. It was a great weekend.”

Kevin and Paul, also members of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, joined over 700 people who have been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame – both highly deserving athletes who have brought respect and acclaim to the sport while retaining a humility and fierce determination that is exemplary of those at the highest echelon of the sport.

A fantastic photo gallery of the events at the International Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremony, produced by Jarret Streiner, is here.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones